Tuesday, September 29, 2009

If You Can't Mauer Them, Mauer Them

I started the thought process for this post temporarily believing I had come up with something original and thought-provoking, only to realize 5 seconds later that I'm a complete idiot for thinking I had come up with something original and thought-provoking.

The Tigers just finished up their day/night doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins, and as a fan of the Tigers, I am terrified of playing against the Twins. I don't know what it is about that team and their mid-Western charm, but they strike me as a relentless force of baseball. It's not that they are that incredibly awesome, but they are that incredibly awesome when they play the Tigers. It sometimes seems like there are greater powers aligned against the Tigers when playing the Twins, like the time when Don Kelly lost that fly ball in the roof of the Metrodome and the Tigers went on to lose.

Of all the Twins, I am most terrified of Joe Mauer. Joe Mauer is a good-ole Minnesota boy who is also a catcher for the Twins. He is reserved, humble-seeming, non-controversial, and a beast at the plate. I'm pretty sure he was born to play baseball, or, possibly, read books to children in the library while curing AIDS. Every time he is up to the plate against the Tigers, I get that sinking feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach, mostly because he always produces. This is why tonight I'm pretty sure I convinced myself that I'm going to buy a Joe Mauer jersey and become his #1 fan. This is the place where I thought I was brilliant for a moment - "Hey, if I become a fan of this guy, he can't hurt me" and then I realized that sounds an awful lot like "if you can't beat them, join them." If I had a time traveling DeLorean I would go back in time and take out the person who first used this phrase making me an original, and if this wasn't an option, I could travel back in time to warn myself that I was coming up with a stupid idea.

Winter Survival Tip

Yes, it is a little bit early for a winter survival tip, but man did fall blow in yesterday. Two days ago was pretty beautiful, and yesterday and today rivaled something more out of Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. Fall is definitely here, and winter can't be particularly far around the corner. This isn't pertinent to my one regular reader from Arizona, John, but winter is part of Michigan and we have to learn to love (or at least deal with) all that winter brings.

Which is why today I bring to you a fantastic winter survival tip that I stole from my guy that I saw today. By the way, thank you that guy. You have already improved my life.

One thing that I found really bugging me last fall and winter is those gas stations that remove the lever thingy from their pumps that lock the handle in "keep pumping" mode. Why would they do such a terrible thing? Because the pumps can't stay on automatically, you have to stand there with your hand out in the freezing cold holding that lever with the cold and wind blowing through you right to your bones. Wearing a glove isn't a particularly good option because then your glove has to touch the disgusting handle and you don't want to have to do that with your gloves. It's easier to wash your hands than your gloves, so you and I are stuck out standing next to our cars staring at the gallon meter wondering why the owner of the gas stations hates us so very much. I hate you too gas station owner. Who is this benefiting?

Yesterday when I stopped by my favorite gas station on Woodward between Catalpa and 12 Mile with the wind and rain driving hard, I already started to hate the prospect of pumping gas for an entire winter with my poor hand freezing pump-by-pump. It's only a few minutes a week for a few months of the year, but it's something I have grown to reasonably dread. I popped out of my car ready to inaugurate my hand to another winter, and the guy in the car in front of me was doing something so brilliant, so thoughtful, he must surely be a relative of Rod Allen, color commentator of the Detroit Tigers. He had taken his gas cap and placed it between the gas pump handle and the handle casing, thus forcing the handle into the perma-on position. Freaking brilliant! I gave it a go with my car and the gas cap fit absolutely perfectly for me. I then stuck my hands in my pants with glee and ran over to the man to give him a hug. That hug attempt didn't work out so well (maybe it had something to do with my hands in my pants), but even just reflecting on this revelation right now makes me a happier person. Even if you have one of those tether gas caps (as I do), the tether is long enough for this brilliant use of the gas cap. If you drive one of those gas cap-less Fords you are screwed, but for the rest of us, your life is now officially better. Us 1, Winter 0.

Curse the Wind

Yesterday night our internet and cable were down for the better part of the evening probably because of the wind storm, so I was unable to blog AND forced to make conversation with human beings. That should be illegal. Now I have to go off to work so I will be unable to add excitement and important insight into your life until later this evening. It really is a shame for you, because today I have a tip that will change your life in only the way that something that doesn't actually change your life will change your life.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Massive Coverage

If you spend your time on any of the websites that I do (Time, CNN, Sports Illustrated, Ken is Great), you are likely to notice a very odd trend from these media outlets. They are all focusing incredibly heavily right now on the great city of Detroit. Well, that is a slight exaggeration in that they do not seem to view the current status of the city as "great", but they are definitely focusing on the city. A couple months ago, there were several reports that Time Warner actually purchased a home in Detroit and they were going to filter various writers and reporters into and out of the house and then they would write about their hands-on experiences "in the trenches". Today, the first major report hit Time's website called "Detroit: The Death - and Possible Life - of a Great City". Of course I read the piece and I thought it was pretty decent, but mostly I'm struggling with figuring out how I feel about all this media coverage. OK so I don't actually live in the D, but I clearly know and have written several times about the way people outside of Michigan view the state is massively influenced by what goes on inside our city. I guess this is why I currently approach this project with fear - fear and slight anger that they haven't yet contacted me for my invaluable input. They even have a Detroit Blog and a Detroit landing site dedicated to this project, and yet, no references to me. This is even more bullcrap than the Lucky Charms thing from a couple days ago.

It's only been about a week since I've been aware of the project's physical (digital) existence on the web, but already I'm realizing how difficult it is to have the microscope pointed directly at us - and for a whole freaking year. It's like the summation of every feel-good and feel-bad story I've read about the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan from the last 5 years compiled in one place with a dose of optimism, cynicism, hope, despair, and desolation in varying amounts. I'm going to continue to follow this effort very closely because I think it is incredibly valuable to know how outsiders view our situation, or perhaps how outsiders may be influencing how others view our situation. I don't even know if people care about what's going on in our beautiful peninsulas and have the time or energy to read these stories, but if you want stories about Michigan minus the humor and my general sexy style, this project may be for you. Don't get it wrong, Time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

This is Bullcrap

Cereal remains the best food product ever invented for so many reasons, I don't even have time to delve into them. I actually probably do have the time, but then I would have to work my way through the thought process of generating a list, attempting to infuse a pathetic degree of humor, and then ranking my list. Everyone seems to like lists (like this one), but I guess I just don't care enough about you to become a list master. Just look at my infrequent blog updates over the past few days. That's not true. I love you.

So what is bullcrap about cereal, you're thinking? Lucky Charms has me upset. If I had to guess, and I do, I would guess that if I were to go around the country and ask everyone what their favorite cereal is, more people would say Lucky Charms than any other cereal. Sure Frosted Flakes has its strong fans and Cheerios make you poop, but Lucky Charms is the champ. Wheat-ish pieces, marshmallows, and a healthy dose of cereal racism; how could you lose? Well, General Mills has figured out how to lose, and they have the audacity to try to pass it off as a benefit.

Right now, the Lucky Charms box proudly advertises "Mini Marshmallow Magic" charms. Mini Marshmallow Charms? MINI MARSHMALLOW CHARMS! This is bullcrap.

How dare they replace my non-mini marshmallow charms with mini marshmallow charms. From my extremely scientific visual scan, I don't even think they have more mini-marshmallow charms to counteract the fact that they are miniaturized. General Mills is giving us less marshmallow for our dollar, and trying to pass it off as something magical. I'm on to you General Mills. They have games on the back of the box where you're supposed to do something or other with the miniature charms to solve a puzzle or something, but really they're just trying to make you overlook their baloney. If it weren't for sentries like me, General Mills may even get away with this. We cannot let them. Post has the right idea with their Honey Bunches of Oats spin-off "Just Bunches" that has picked through the least healthy components of their cereal and put them into their own packaging for our enjoyment. Way to go Post. Lucky Charms would be far more magical if I were to open a package one morning and they replaced regular charms with super-sized charms. Or even better, just replace the charms with whole Kraft marshmallows and then revel in the magic General Mills has provided to us. That is a product I can get behind.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

More Screw You Kwame

Did you notice the solar eclipse today? If you did, it was Kwame's balls blocking the sun as they swelled and swelled and swelled (much like the Grinch's heart grew) from another of his many outrageous acts. Today, he requested that his restitution to the city of Detroit be cut from $6,000/month to $6/month. That is not a typo. Kwame's camp requested that he have to pay one-one thousandth of what he owes. His lawyers were late getting to the courtroom because driving around Kwame's balls added an additional 4 hours to their trip.

Fortunately for everyone who loves truth and justice and hates Kwame Kilpatrick, the appellate court denied his bid because of "lack of merit" and (I'm making up this paraphrase) additional cost of sewer repairs necessary from the devastation of the weight of Kwame's balls.

His lawyer cautioned that we do not make assumptions about Kwame's financial situation because of his Cadillac Escalade and the million dollar+ mansion he lives in in Texas, and I agree. We should not make assumptions about his financial situation - we should hate him regardless of his net worth. It doesn't matter if he eats out of a trash can or only on caviar spoons or out of the trash using caviar spoons, our spite and anger must be boundless and parsed out in perpetuity.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

In for Five

This morning, local news sources reported about a woman and her daughter in Roseville who were burgled, and during the course of the burglary, some piece of crap (or possible pieces of crap) killed the family kitten by putting the kitten in the washing machine and turning it on. The Michigan Humane Society has offered $2,000 as a reward for the case, and I'm not sure the right way to do this or if it will actually mean anything, but I am going to figure out how to add $500 of my money to the reward. I'll call the Humane Society tomorrow to figure it out. I'm not a rich man, but this is the kind of B.S. that is above and beyond unacceptable. There are so many things in our lives that are completely out of our control, crap like this that we can control just cannot happen. On top of all this, many a study shows that people who torture and kill pets are those who are most likely to become sociopaths and murderers.

Somewhere out in the world, a terrible person is bragging to a friend about a successful burglary, and maybe with some luck and enough financial prodding, that friend will rat out their friend. On The Free Press website someone commented that financial incentives aren't helpful and that the police should be left to do their job, and I agree with the second part of the thought, but shit like this can't fly.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Greatest Michigan News Ever. Unqualified.

Last year at about this time, I embarked on a noble and spiritually-inspired journey to eat a whole bunch of hamburgers. There is a little bit more to the journey than just this, but that was the basic premise. I ate a bunch of hamburgers, wrote about them in this here internet writing thingy, and I continue to eat burgers in a less-specific and unstructured way. I have deviated from my ultimate goal in that I am not pushing myself through the specific list and I am simply failing to finalize write-ups on the burgers I am eating. I have myriad reasons for my failure in this area, including but not limited to moving, marrying, honeymooning, working, etc., but the bottom line is I am not doing my job for you, the reader. In other areas of the blog I feel that I am vastly exceeding your expectations simply because I have not given up yet and I still write with some frequency, and the cherry on top being that my writing remains totally and 100% awesome. We all know it.

But in the burger area, I am reminded of my failure every day simply by waking up and reflecting on my accomplishments and failures of the last 24 hours. I actually never do this and have never done this before, but it seems like it could be a good idea. Note to you: try this and let me know how it goes and if it is worth it.

BurgerFest-O-Rama lives on in spirit and I still have realistic hopes for its triumphant return. The reason this is important is because one of the restaurants that inspired the journey and default best-burger-in-the-universe-until-proven-otherwise, The Redcoat Tavern in Royal Oak, Michigan, is expanding its Michigan footprint. I guess the Redcoat owners also owned Zinc Brasserie and Wine Bar in West Bloomfield, and they have decided to do away with their fancy-pansy Wine Bar and replace it with a slightly creepy red-lighted restaurant that serves the finest burgers in the land. The article from The Freep also indicates that the owners are considering opening 1-3 MORE Redcoats in our fine state. If the prospect of having a Redcoat Tavern closer to you does not excite you, you have no soul or joy of living. This is the greatest thing that could happen to our state - including unemployment closer to 5%. That is entirely untrue, but it's still pretty great news. Every time I am in a group and I mention Redcoat, someone looks toward me and gives me that little head nod to indicate they know what I know. This isn't a small club of lovers and I'm not claiming to know any secret fact about the burger greatness with waits of greater than an hour at pretty much any time or meal of the day, but it's still fun to evangelize the glory of meat when cooked correctly and served with perfect onion rings.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

All In the Timing

Any time one moves into a new place, that person has to figure out quite a few things about the new place of living. Since I finished up my masters at school many years ago, I've been living in Royal Oak with my parents. In some capacity or another then, excluding time at school, I lived in the same house in Royal Oak for about 26 years. Because I spent so much time there, I pretty much had the system masterfully figured out. I remain intimately familiar with every creak, draft, hitch, and ding in that house. I took many things for granted about that home, and now I'm realizing even more things that require further education and training now that I no longer live there - things that I didn't even realize were important to me. Life is like one big learning experiment. Over the past week, I've realized that I really need to improve my timing.

What timing, you ask? Toilet timing.

Over the past several years, I've developed a very odd but perfectly understandable (to me) habit of trying to have the toilet complete its flushing process at the exact moment that I complete taking my leak. This requires me to carefully reach down and hit the flush lever when I still have about 5% of my internal liquids remaining. This may not immediately make any sense to you, but it's really all about efficiency and adding another sense of accomplishment to my day. When I complete this feat, it is strangely gratifying and makes me feel pretty good about myself just by performing a ridiculously common act. It's like when I was younger and would spend minutes on minutes with a stop watch trying to get the stop watch to stop at exactly "X.00" and training myself to make it happen as consistently as possible. Every once in awhile when I'm waiting in line or something, I'll whip out a time keeping device to see if I still got it. I do.

Now, though, I have to learn three new toilets and their respective timings, and this has thrown my success rate into chaos. Typically, I'm finding the flush completing before I'm completed, requiring an additional, very environmentally unfriendly flush, or following the whole "if it's yellow, let it mellow" approach. Both of these are terrible options, and years of training under one timing system is making it much harder to adjust than I originally anticipated. I'm still working on it (multiple times a day), but I have not yet found the optimal solution. These are the things you learn when you move somewhere new.

So, does anyone else do this or anything similar - or are you still waiting to discover the joys of bathroom efficiency? This is a no-judgment zone, unless you say something really crazy and then I and everyone I know will judge you harshly when I tell them what you do. That's a good way to encourage involvement, isn't it?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Obama+Speech = Obvious Communism

It is the oldest mathematical equation known to humankind, much like the book that I never really understood "Sideways Math from Wayside School" or called something like that. What I'm saying is I have absolutely no idea why parents and some educators objected to President Obama's "Welcome Back to School" speech that was presented to select students across the country earlier today.

The thing that absolutely bothers me the most about this non-issue is that adults were objecting to the prospect that President Obama would include beliefs and concepts in his speech that may not 100% agree with the parents' point of view. This is annoying for two reasons. First, people objected without even having a clue what the president was going to say - without any sort of idea about anything specific, people had a huge problem with this speech. Second, and the bigger issue I have, is the belief that your children are somehow better off if they are only exposed to ideas that agree with those of their parents. How are the kids supposed to learn to cope with adversity, disagreement, or challenges to their beliefs if they are insulated from things as simple as a speech from the overwhelmingly elected President of the United States of America (who, again, may or may not be saying anything disagreeable in the first place) who is more or less telling the kids "Thanks for coming, stay in school, don't do drugs, and please worship Karl Marx (now corrected because Charlie made me feel highly uneducated when he noted that Karl is spelled with a K not C. The worst part is that I totally know this one, too) and I'll give you candy".

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I Hope This Isn't Our Moment

Is anyone else watching the Michigan game right now?

Furthermore, if you are watching, are you praying, much like me, that the song by Kenny Chesney "This Is Our Moment" is not a recurring theme for the remainder of the college football season on ABC? I won't be able to take it - I'm going to have to swear off football for the whole 2009 season.

Going into many commercials, halftime, quarter breaks, etc. ABC rolls into a video package cutting back and forth between game highlights and some video of this insanely painful song. How dare they force me to listen to this garbage? I have strong feelings about music and they don't always coincide with the opinions of others, but there is no way that more than 50% of the people out there in TV land have positive feelings toward this song. This may be the shortest period of time it has ever taken me to grow to hate a song, including "My Humps".

Making a House a Home

Or at least a house with food and toothpaste. I continue to work on figuring out what it means to be more of an adult, and my education continued today when Maureen and I spent just over $400 on groceries and other general health and personal hygiene products between CostCo and Meijer.

You mean my dental floss didn't magically replenish itself when I was living at home with my parents? This is baloney.

I'm sure there are many more lessons forthcoming, most of them likely involving the expenditure of dollars. On the flip side, my parents are going to quickly realize that they have started suddenly saving hundreds of dollars a month on food, electricity, and delousing bills. The only thing I'm still majorly adjusting to is that I don't have my dogs and brother here with me to watch TV.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Things that are Cool

I am the decider of all things cool because I have figured out this internet thing, and in this capacity as decider of cool, I would like to let you in on a couple of very cool things. You're welcome, in advance.

The first thing that is very cool is this blog. Thanks for coming!

The second thing that is almost as cool but not quite is straight from the mind of my friend Colin, he of ColinFest and "The Great and True Story of Colin". Colin recently completed law school and will be shortly starting a new job as some sort of pretend lawyer (I have no absolute proof that he took or passed the bar exam, I only have his word which is most often great and true, but I'm of the suspicious sort). Prior to starting his new career, he is traveling around the midwest and eastern seaboard and visiting all of the amusement parks and ice cream providers that he can handle. As far as I can tell, he is eating waffles (in normal and cone form) and ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. Colin is a fan of pointless games of skill, and with this passion, he is spending a large percentage of his time at these amusement parks playing their various carnival games and winning absurdly sized stuffed animals (they're not all animals, but they seem to be all stuffed). He then will typically donate these prizes to Toys for Tots, random people in the parks and their families, or whoever else is willing to take them off his hands. That is my basic overview, but I have to imagine Colin would be happy to have you read his blog - Amusement Purposes Only - as often as possible. As we have already determined that I am the arbiter of cool, you have no doubt that this is the next best website for you to read. I am thoroughly enjoying Colin's saga, and I imagine that you will, too.

The third thing that is cool on this Friday before the extended Holiday weekend is The Perkins Family, and most specifically Jim Perkins. The Perkins family is a clan of renegade musicians based in the Detroit area who travel around, performing songs, and providing enjoyment for those who like clans of traveling renegade musicians. My brother has been friends with the Perkins for many years now through his experiences with Irish music. The reason this is pertinent to right now is that Mr. Perkins, patriarch and bearded man, performed at my wedding almost two weeks ago now (wow, I've been married almost two weeks). He was awesome and a phenomenal addition to the wedding ceremony. We asked him to learn a couple of songs, he had a few songs that he recommended, he showed up with his guitar, and then sat down and wowed the crowd. Everyone who was at the ceremony (standing room only crowd) made a point to comment on how great the musician was, and several of these people are actually professional musicians themselves. I'm not quite sure how the family typically rents themselves out to share their talents with the world (my brother connected me to Mr. Perkins for the wedding ceremony), but I don't think I could recommend them any higher. They typically perform Irish music, but Mr. Perkins didn't seem to have trouble incorporating non-Irish fare into the playlist. You can check them out here and here (important note - in no way is this positive reference or review related to compensation for the wedding performance. He was just a great addition to the day).

The fourth thing that is cool that is happening this weekend is the Detroit International Jazz Festival (I love how because you can pee on Windsor from Detroit and vice versa everything in Detroit is "international"). The festival runs from today, Friday the 4th, through Monday the 7th. I have never been to the jazz festival, and unfortunately I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to make it this year. The performance that has the biggest draw for me is happening in very near proximity to the Michigan football game tomorrow. This performance is by Mr. Dave Brubeck, absolutely amazing and incredibly famous jazz pianist, on Saturday at 4:45 in the Hart Plaza Amphitheater. I saw him about 4 years ago at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor and it was one of the most magical concerts I have ever attended. Right now Dave B. is 88 years-old, so he must have been about 84 when I saw him with Maureen and my siblings. Watching someone of his age flying over the keyboard was awe-inspiring, and this performance stands as one of my top 3 favorite concerts of all time. If you have any free time at all on Saturday (or don't care about college football), you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't make it to see him downtown tomorrow. Maybe Dave Brubeck and Jim Perkins can get together and hang out.

Those are the cool things right now, and I haven't even touched on Arts, Beats, and Eats or my and Maureen's first trip to CostCo as a married couple. Get out there, enjoy your state, root for your college football team (Go Blue!) and professional baseball team of choice, experience the perfect weather, and generally enjoy your life, family, friends, and anything else that makes you happy. I'm happy to be married, to have a strong, happy, and fun relationship with my family, to live in the great state of Michigan, and that maybe someday we'll finally have our new couch and car.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Home, Sweet (New) Home

I'm back from honeymoon and I returned with some woman who now lives in the same place that I live. I'm still figuring out what she is doing here, but she seems pretty nice and quite pretty, so I don't mind very much.

As always, I have returned to my fantastic home state of Michigan. Vacation is great, but Michigan is greaterest.

I hit the ground running with some significant work queued up right off the bat, so that will also be keeping me busy as I continue to try to find my way out of the closet I have locked myself in at my new dwelling. I just wanted to take a minute to let you know to start checking back on the website with your ever-increasing regularity. Once a day is quite insufficient.

It's nice to be home